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Killarney Memories

by J. C. Treleaven

Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1978, Volume 23, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

The Hossack and Treleaven Families

My grandfather, Samuel Hossack, his wife and daughter Jessie, Scottish Presbyterians from Wroxeter, Ontario, arrived in Killarney in about 1880. Grandfather homesteaded the quarter section south and north of the Bay, the southern portion thereof now being the experimental farm and the northern portion, the south east corner of the present town of Killarney. Samuel Hossack also filed on two other quarters for his sons William and Alex, then in the United States, but they did not take up these homesteads and the land came into the possession of John Williams who subdivided it to form the greater portion of the present town.

The Hossacks lived for several years in a log and sod shack on a homestead south of the Bay and later moved to the Hossack red brick house in town, half of which was leased to the William Ramsay family.

Those were the days of the portable engine and the band cutting and straight elevating threshing separator. The threshing crew crossed the Bay in rowboats from the Hossack farm to the town house for their meals. Jack Hossack operated the farm on both sides of the Bay and therefore into the south half of the town and marketed the crops in Brandon. Samuel Hossack and his two sons William and Alex were stone masons and built many of the stone houses still to be seen in the town. In his later years Samuel Hossack superintended the erection of the stone and brick work in the first Killarney high school.

In 1888 Jessie Hossack married John George Treleaven, local saddler and harness maker. He was one of several who moved to Killarney from Crystal City. The married couple erected a five room frame cottage, later brick veneer, on four lots in the Hossack subdivision where they lived and raised their family of four sons until J. G. Treleaven retired and moved to New Westminster, B.C., in 1923.

Killarney’s Early Days

A coal heater in the living room and a wood stove in the kitchen supplied the heat for the house. The sons of the family put in their spare time sawing wood with the buck and cross-cut saws. The wood, chiefly tamarac, was hauled to town from Turtle Mountain by farmers with creaking sleighs and frozen whiskers usually during 40° below weather. In the winter, tubs of snow and blocks of ice cut from the Bay supplied the water for laundry and ablution purposes. Outside plumbing winter and summer was quite the thing and the Killarney pioneer can appreciate reading “The Specialist” and especially the reference therein to the hardware section of T. Eaton’s catalogues. Coal oil and later gas lamps furnished the light until the first steam power electric plant was installed and operated by Mr. Vipond on the north bank of the Bay just west of the Treleaven cottage. There was no telephone in our house at least until some time after 1910. The best furniture was the old horse-hair type put in the parlor for the use of visitors only. The organ, mouth organ, accordion, the fiddle and the human voice entertained the ladies and their friends on the cold winter nights.

Twenty-five cents worth of meat with a soup bone thrown in free, obtained from the butchers John Pritchard, Alex Tinnen, Mr. Hamilton, and later Harvey Coleman, supplied the daily needs of the average family when the members were not using fish and sides of pork and quarters of beef purchased from the local farmers. Good cheese was made and sold by the Nathan Clark family located south of town. Barrels of apples obtained from the East constituted the chief fruit dish for the family in the winter time. Milk was delivered by Bill Stowe and later by the Rev. M. P. Floyd.

There was no such thing as bridge or rummy in the early days, as cards in the eyes of many of the good old Scottish Presbyterians were “tools of the devil”, but in later years some of us graduated from checkers and dominoes and croquinole to the games of Five Hundred, Euchre, and Whist. Incidentally, George Treleaven was at one time the champion checkers or drafts player in southern Manitoba.

The first school was held in a frame building situated on the corner where the provincial highway turns south on the way to Lena and the USA boundary line. This former school house was occupied in 1910 by the Richard Dagg family. The Rev. C. W. Gordon (Ralph Connor) conducted religious services on one or two occasions in this building.

The chief school games were association football and baseball, prisoner’s base, pon-pom-pull-away, and steal the wedge, and evening games in the downtown lots and byways amongst the boys were “smuggle the gag” and “hoist the sail”. Skating and ice boating on the lake and Bay and tobogganing on both sides of the “Mountain” south of the lake were great winter sports engaged in by many. In the good old summertime many a happy moment was spent in swimming and fishing, in canoeing and sailing, and midnight cruising and dancing on the lake. Canoe fights and moonlight canoe parties were enjoyed by the participants in the water and the on-lookers sitting on the north bank of the lake in front of the John Williams’ cottages.

The circuses that came to town, especially the loading and unloading of the circus equipment, the parades, and the watering of the elephants and camels down at the Bay were wonderful attractions for the young fry. The minstrel shows and plays such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Ten Nights in a Bar Room” presented in the old Orange stone hall just north of the school grounds provided additional entertainment at long intervals for old and young. Fly-by-night barkers selling quack medicines on platforms erected on the town dray in front of the Leland Hotel, with their quick sale harangues interspersed with negro and banjo music, drew and delighted large crowds at various times. On Halloween the streets and many buildings were decorated with “houses of parliament” buildings temporarily removed from their permanent locations. Many exciting moments were enjoyed by Killarney young and old fry sitting in the railway corral north of Jim Cowan’s livery barn and watching the sales and lassooing of broken and unbroken work and saddle horses driven up to Killarney from the northern states.

Many of the West’s great curlers, including Roy Pritchard, learned the art of playing the game with circular wooden tamarac blocks on sheets of ice near Tom Buck’s flour mill, Robert Rollins’ store, Dick Arscott’s blacksmith shop, and Dick Oliver’s residence just north of the old stone Erskine Presbyterian Church. Annual bonspiels were held and cups and prizes were donated by Senator Finlay Young, George Lawrence, M.L.A., Fred Stevenson, the jeweller, and other local business firms. In Tom Bowyer’s rink March Macklam was the knock-out running-shot king on the curling sheets and George Treleaven was the fancy skater and P. Hunter and Sam Melville were the speed artists. Posts down the middle of the skating rink never made any Rocket Richards.

The Killarney Guide, then as now the local paper, was edited by Herb Monteith, Wilfred Jewell being one of the printer’s devils. The Grit newspaper, The Manitoba Free Press was sold and delivered on the streets by Cliff (Jim) Treleaven, and the Tory paper, The Winnipeg Telegram was handled by Arthur Weaver. Other papers and periodicals were The Saturday Blade and The Chicago Ledger and, of course, the old reliable The Saturday Evening Post. Those were the days when everyone was either a Grit or a Tory, a Scottish Presbyterian or a Methodist with a sprinkling of Anglicans thrown in for good measure, and the news vendors knew the political and religious tags of all their customers.

The pioneer storekeepers were F. S. Moule operating between the Grand Central and Leland hotels, Archie Hicks, T. J. Lawlor with his “British and American Warehouse”, Robert Rollins & Sons, Reuben Cross, Marquis McCullough, and William Bingham. Angus McQueen and his father before him had a bake shop and confectionary and the Masons had a bake shop just north of the old Orange stone hall. Dick Arscott, Ab Stilwell, and Billy McNamee were the village blacksmiths. Tom Buck with his assistants Davey White and the Snyders operated the flour mill. Phil Sherlock and his amiable daughter Mabel served the public graciously at the C.P.R. station. Bob Weir and Bill Schnarr bought grain at the local elevators. George Winram, Jack Saunders (the auctioneer), Billy Harris, George McNamee, and Tom McBurney were implement agents. Sid King and later Fred Stevenson and Si Grant were the pioneer jewellers and watchmakers. Theo Liddle and John McNaughton and J. P. Shannon and later John Lawrence and Bill Cooney were the hardware merchants. James Fowley and later Fred Watson managed the Grand Central Hotel before it was torn down, and the Coleman brothers, and later Andy Wilson managed the Leland Hotel in the old bar days. It was in the Leland Hotel that Ed Scanlon, drayman and sanitary engineer and practical joker, lit a match to the whiskers of Tom Martin, operator and occupier of the lime kiln on the south slope of the “Mountain”. Ed also kept George Ringland, the town constable and auctioneer, on pins and needles by hiding his dray license under the tail of one of his dray horses and by pretending that his dray team was running away past one of Ringland’s auction sales, thus temporarily stopping the sale while the constable ran out to stop the runaway team.

Great fires in town were those that burned down Tom Liddle’s hardware store and the adjacent Chinese restaurant, the Grand Central Hotel and the stores and offices south of it, the livery barn between the Leland Hotel and George Treleaven’s brick block, and William Hodgins’ residence on Main Street just south of the Treleaven block.

Jim Baldwin who managed the old stone Union Bank on the west side of Main Street and drove fine blood horses down Main Street in his cutter in winter and his sulkey in summer, acted as judge at the races held annually at southern Manitoba’s “Bigger and Better Fair”.

Doctors Whyte and Alexander and Arthur George Hay, local barrister, occupied offices above the Richard store, and George V. Monteith had his law office, later carried on by Art Williams, north of Richard’s store and Dick Arscott’s blacksmith shop. T. G. Hoar and Jake Vipond and later Minor Conba operated the tonsorial parlors and billiard and poolroom establishments. Jake also astonished the natives with his “horse and buggy gas automobile” and the first steam automobile was brought in from Minneapolis and exhibited north of the Grand Central Hotel. Saul Shannon had an excellent confectionary store and Mr. Ritchie, the man with the golden voice, and later Messrs. Wynn and Harvey operated men’s and boys’ clothing stores. Dick Oliver and later Bill Carlson and Dr. Whyte and later Mr. Evans were the town Druggists.

Nixon and Cowan operated livery barns and feed stables and “Jimmie” drove a big black team that hauled the junior and juvenile baseball teams in a four seated democrat to the sport felts at Holmfield, Ninga, Ninette, Dunrea, and Marguerite. William Ramsey and A. M. High operated the lumber yards. Billy Baldwin and later Ab Shoebottam delivered parcels from the stores in a democrat wagon drawn by the old grey mare. Bill Robinson and Ben Pravitt were the local tinsmiths and William Tait the tailor.

Weekly dances were held in the Treleaven lodge hall where Ed and Bill Baldwin supplied the music and Bill Hodgins was master of ceremonies.

T. Albert Scholes taught school in the first little school house and later in the brick public school on Main Street. He was succeeded as principal by Mr. Watson and Rufus Earle (later a barrister at North Battleford and Vancouver) and by D. H. Hartley and Mr. Finkbiener. The Misses Jennie Sharman, Dowler, MacGregor, Hopwood, Parker, and Annie Eccles (Mrs. Fred Kent) assisted these principals in the public and high schools. The boys and girls under the tutelage of D. J. Hartley learned part singing and later joined the choirs in Killarney and in towns and cities west of the first, second and third meridians. Rev. M. P. Floyd, Erskine Presbyterian Church minister, assisted D. J. Hartley in displaying the intricacies of the Jolly Balance to the physical science students. Grant Saunby (son of the Rev. Saunby, the Methodist minister) entertained his classmates occasionally by chloroforming the odd cat and by setting off the occasional stink bomb.

Killarney had a professional baseball team in the early days that lasted until their defeat by the Winnipeg Maroons resulting in the bankruptcy of the club. Jess Trip, later Saskatchewan M.L.A. and druggist at Oxbow, was the catcher and Cal Dwan was one of the hired pitchers.

The Killarney ladies band, with Joe Parks, the jeweller, as leader, Mrs. Parks as drummer, and members such as Mabel and Cora Sherlock, Ted and Annie Marquis, Florence and Sarah Melville, and Edie and Jane Stilwell, brought great fame to Killarney when they toured Canada and the United States.

Jack and Sam Saunders and O. G. and Noble Rutledge were the crack shots in Killarney’s gun club, and Killarney kids operated the trap shooting releases for the club with live pigeons but when the Humane Society objected the pigeon feasts were over.

Page revised: 10 April 2012

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